Now in its third year, the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is a contest in which kids make and send in “movies that creatively compress the story of Newbery Award–winning books into 90 seconds or less.” I feel lucky to live in the Bay Area, one of only four places you can see the festival. The screening was in the Koret Auditorium in San Francisco’s main library. And it was free! (Another reason to love libraries!)
I already adored Katherine Applegate, and now I love her even more! The author of The One and Only Ivan co-hosted the festival with its creator, James Kennedy, and they made a great team. He was in a tux, she wore an evening gown (with sneakers!), and they did a clever little song-and-dance number about the contest’s namesake, John Newbery.
I somehow snagged a front-row seat, which came in handy when I got chosen to come up on stage for a Newbery quiz. (!) I got the first answer fairly quickly (Sounder), but I suffered from the tip-of-the-tongue syndrome for the second question (Because of Winn-Dixie) and didn’t know the third one at all. But Katherine could tell that I knew the second one, so she gave me credit for it.
Of course the main event of the afternoon was watching several 90-second retellings of Newbery Award–winners. The entries ranged from rough Claymation to live action, from very amateur (and adorable) to pretty sophisticated (and clearly done with parental help).
A few of the films screened were made by groups of kids who live in Northern California and had made the trip into San Francisco for the viewing. It was great to be able to cheer for local kids who were there to hear it.
I was quite impressed by a middle-school student who came on stage to play the game “Snooki or Newbery?” James Kennedy would read a sentence, and the boy had to say whether the quote was from a Newbery award-winner or from Jersey Shore personality, Snooki Polizzi. You would think it would be pretty easy, but it wasn’t at all. It made me think the boy actually read Snooki’s book…
It was a wonderful event that celebrates books, film, and creative kids—what could be better than that?